The Importance of Keeping Your Pet’s Skin & Fur Healthy
by chuishia chan on May 02, 2022
Do you know that a gleaming coat shows the vitality as well as the indication of the health status of a pet? Pets with dry, flaky, or unkempt fur could be suffering from illnesses such as thyroid disease, hyperadrenocorticism (Cushing’s disease), kidney or liver disease, or nutritional disorders.
Flaky, dry skin (dogs)
With that in mind, here are some reasons why it is essential to keep your pet’s skin and fur healthy.
It is not just to look cute and majestic as both your furbaby’s skin and fur play important roles in its health and well-being; they work as an essential part of its immune system and are critical to maintaining proper hydration. Here are some basic functions of the skin and fur for dogs and cats.
Protection – The skin and fur serve as a barrier that protects your dog or a cat from objects, chemicals, and environmental stressors. Basically, the skin and fur protect the internal organs from external threats. In addition, the skin contains nerves and nerve endings that help your pet sense heat, cold, pressure, and pain. At the same time, the fur helps to protect your pets against chemical damage, trauma, ultraviolet light, and contact with hot surfaces.
Immunity – The skin works as an important part of the immune system and when the skin’s immunity is affected, infections and potentially serious diseases caused by harmful bacteria can happen.
Thermoregulation – A healthy coat will efficiently regulate your pet’s body temperature through moving hair follicles to bring hairs closer together and to insulate or allow air to enter under looser hairs to cool down a dog or cat. Do you also know that your furbaby can warm itself up by shivering?
Hydration – We may not know this, but our furbabies’ skin is vital to maintain proper hydration. That said, water loss through the skin may severely impact your pet’s health. This is because both dogs and cats do not have sweat glands, thus, excess water loss through unhealthy skin will often lead to health issues. At the same time, excessive water loss through the skin affects the amount of energy a pet needs to maintain its metabolism.
Nutrient storage – Meanwhile, do you know that your furbaby’s skin serves as storage for several nutrients. Protein and amino acids are found in the skin, as well as collagen fibers and enzymes. Both dogs’ and cats’ hair consist of protein where 35% of a dog’s daily protein consumption is utilized to maintain its skin and coat. Meanwhile, linoleic acid and other fatty acids are stored in the skin and are also present in the phospholipid bilayer to provide flexibility and fluidity to the skin. In addition, fatty acids are essential in protecting your pets against inflammation. Minerals which include zinc, copper, selenium, and manganese are also found in relatively high concentrations in the skin of pets.
That said, how do we keep our furbabies’ skin and fur healthy?
Well, to simply put, it is through their diet! Diets that are rich in omega-3 fatty acids, protein, vitamins, and minerals play an important role in keeping your pet’s skin and fur healthy.
Omega-3 fatty acids (DHA and EPA) protect the skin and fur as well as keep it shiny. EPA helps to prevent and reduce inflammation. You can find omega-3 fatty acids in fish, algal oil, and flaxseed.
Linoleic acid is an omega-6 fatty acid that is commonly found in corn, soy, flaxseed, and other nuts, which is an essential nutrient in keeping a healthy fur. Many dogs and cats that suffer from dry, flaky skin are often to be deficient in linoleic acid. Dandruff, thin hair, discolored hair, increased shedding, and poor healing are associated with low linoleic acid levels in both skin and diet.
Zinc is specifically essential for the skin because of the high cellular turnover rate caused by constant shedding. In addition, zinc reduces water loss through the skin. Pets who are fed low levels of zinc would commonly develop hair loss, skin infection, and a dull appearance.
Biotin and B Vitamins also play vital roles as cofactors in many of your furbabies’ metabolic processes, including fat metabolism. This is important in the skin because both biotin and B vitamins are involved in aiding linoleic acid function in the epidermis and dermis.
That said, as pawrents, we need to choose healthy treats in addition to healthy meals as treats make up at least 10% of our furbabies’ daily diet. Hence, it is important to have a closer look at what type of treats we are giving them – we have to always read the labels to know what ingredients are used – fresh or synthetic ingredients.
At the same time, proper and regular grooming will help to keep your furbabies’ skin and fur in good condition. Meanwhile, applying pet-friendly essential oil and ointment would also help to maintain the health and well-being of your pets’ skin and fur.
Photo credits: WebMD (Pets)